The Past Fifty Years
Diablotin: Age of the Wolf
The Aveyrone Empire is in the midst of a perfect storm of political, religious, and cultural upheaval. The removal of the Arch as a means of selecting rulers, the re-emergence of the members of House Rat together with the appearance of the Rat constellation where previously the Void existed, and the changing position of the Houseless, has led to tension and even fragmentation within the church and the aristocracy over how best to deal with these many developments. With the recent death of Empress Idaia, the crisis over the succession, at least, is about to come to a head…
What Happened Fifty Years Ago?
It is widely believed that fifty years ago the Rat god was somehow freed to return to its place in the heavens (as evidenced by the change in the stars), and of course it is known that the members of House Rat re-emerged from the undercity at around the same time. The Arch's relocation was immediately obvious to everyone, though the precise meaning behind it is disputed – however, it is generally believed that it no longer functions, or at least not the way it used to, and so cannot be used to select rulers. People still tend to avoid the area around the Down (which is no longer Black – plants will successfully grow on it now), though they would probably claim it's just out of habit.
House Rat occupies the lowest rung in society. There are comparatively few of them (certainly less than 10,000) and they mostly live in the Shambles, though a few were elevated to noble rank by Empress Tristane and a few others are scholars at the Castalia. They have yet to have any position of power chosen from their numbers, though they do have a Reverend Father of their Order, Velten. They do work that many people aren't willing to take, and aren't well-trusted, partly because they still speak their own language amongst themselves and are suspected (probably falsely) of being able to change shape. It is uncertain at this point whether their House will be inserted into the rotation of emperors or patriarchs. Some members of the House advocate the establishment of their own kingdom, requesting that the Empire set aside some land for them where they can make their own society, though others are reluctant to leave the city and take up professions they have never practiced, such as farming. Still others recognize that, as a tiny minority in the Empire it is unlikely that they will ever be permitted to hold high positions of power the way the system currently operates, and advocate for a more republican form of government (see below).
The Succession to the Throne
The Arch is no longer used to choose rulers. The last time an emperor was chosen, after the death of Empress Tristane, the Great Council reviewed the nominated candidates and chose among them, selecting Idaia Storms, who was then ceremonially consecrated by the then-head of the church, Matriarch Pasith. This process was considered unsatisfactory by many citizens of the Empire, as it was perceived that in the future, a Patriarch/Matriarch could refuse to consecrate the chosen ruler for one reason or another, or that factionalism could easily come to splinter the Great Council, leading to possible civil war. Moreover, Empress Idaia was not universally well-liked. Although this has been true of nearly every ruler the Empire has ever known, this time her mistakes and faults seemed magnified, and those who disagreed with her placed blame squarely on the Council for choosing poorly, as they saw it. Some factions argue for the creation of an hereditary monarchy to resolve these problems, others for broader elections and/or the creation of a republic, and a small minority for more radical solutions...
Houses are considerably more flexible than they once were. Officially, the church allows inter-House marriages, thanks to Matriarch Pasith, though some clerics still refuse to perform them. Foundling children can be raised as belonging to their adoptive parents' House and children of inter-House unions can be accepted into the House of one of their parents, though, again, some individuals refuse to accept these people as true members of that House, if their heritage is known. There is still some prejudice in society at large against the Houseless and those who choose to marry outside their own House, though not as much as there formerly was.
There have been some important technological advances in the past 50 years. Steam engines are used in certain industries (e.g. mining) and recently a passenger line opened, travelling south from Diablotin through the Duchies of Epinal, Urmia, to Colwyn Bay on the coast. Other lines are still under construction, but expected to begin service in the next few years. A pair of sisters from Rufisque have demonstrated a flying contraption that uses hot air, but it's viewed as a novelty at best, less reliable than magically-powered flight. Printing equipment has become more widespread and affordable, making possible broadsheet-style newspapers, of which there are several operating in the city. Firearms, now being somewhat more common, now count as Martial rather than Exotic weapons.
A brief history of the past fifty years
- 2197 – The Blackhope Rebellion is put down. Boden of Gouge is appointed Warlord following the death of Patric Arguelles. The Arch is moved, the Rat's stars appear in the sky, and Empress Tristane's life is saved through divine intervention. The Rat people gradually begin to re-emerge from the sewers.
- 2202 – Patriarch Loftus dies and is succeeded by Matriarch Briaga, formerly of the Order of the Lizard.
- 2230 - Matriarch Briaga dies and is succeeded by Matriarch Pasith, formerly of the Order of the Ox. Matriarch Pasith begins to introduce various reforms concerning the Houseless, not all of which are universally well-received.
- 2234 – Empress Tristane dies after a brief illness. Her 'widow' Althea retires to their eldest daughter Theonée's duchy, Combermere. Empress Idaia of the Ox is selected by the Great Council and consecrated by Matriarch Pasith. Idaia replaces Tristane's Inner Council completely. Loch returns to his research at the Castalia, Boden retires to the county of Gouge, and Kalman to the duchy of Sarande.
- 2245 – Matriarch Belden vanishes, and is eventually confirmed to be dead by divinatory magic, though her body is never found. Patriarch Morlan, formerly of the Order of the Wolf, succeeds her, despite some opposition from Reverend Father Velten of the Order of the Rat.
- 2247 – Empress Idaia dies in a sailing accident.